Highlights from AAR

  • Spending time with Roger Lundin and Wayne Martindale (both English professors at Wheaton College) on Thursday afternoon. These two professors were absolutely central in my academic and spiritual development as an undergraduate. I owe them both more than can be expressed in words. It was sheer joy to speak with them again.
  • The papers given by Keith Johnson (Wheaton College) and Kevin Hector (University of Chicago) for the Karl Barth Society of North America meeting. Johnson gave a summary of his dissertation on the analogia entis, rejecting the view that Barth got the analogy of being wrong. Hector weighed in for a second time on the Trinity-election debate that originated with Bruce McCormack’s essay, “Grace and Being.” The two papers were very stimulating and they were certainly the highlight of the weekend.
  • Listening to PTS President Iain Torrance give brilliant comments in both the T.F. Torrance Theological Fellowship meeting and Karl Barth Society meeting. His historical knowledge is a wonder to behold.
  • Meeting Paul DeHart (Vanderbilt University) for the first time in person on Sunday night and having a passionate discussion with him about Barth, Jüngel, and the analogy of being. He gave a wonderful and brilliant rejection of Radical Orthodoxy, and he was very gracious in our conversation afterward. I look forward to talking with him more in the future.
  • Drinking Scotch and talking theology with Ry Siggelkow (aka R.O. Flyer from rain and the rhinoceros) and David Horstkoetter (flying.farther). It was great to finally meet these fellow theo-bloggers in person. I had a really good time hanging out with them. It made me thankful once again for the blogosphere, if only for the chance to get to know people like Ry and David.
  • Watching John Milbank and David Bentley Hart make fools of themselves—and Milbank twice! Honestly, I don’t care what moments of brilliance these two thinkers have, their arrogance, egotism, and pomposity are, for me, the final verdict on their value for Christian theology—which is, I must say, virtually nil.
  • Hanging out in downtown Chicago again after so many years.
  • Hearing a really brilliant paper on Sunday afternoon about Harry Potter. Seriously. It was very, very good.
  • Giving my first AAR Annual Meeting paper in the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture session. It went really well.
  • Seeing my wife on Monday night after getting home in one piece.


Troy Polidori said…
Is DeHart planning on publishing his paper on RadOx anytime soon?
I don't think so. It wasn't an actual paper, but rather a panel session on metaphysics. Most of his really damning comments came in the Q&A afterwards anyway.
Anonymous said…
Was Kevin convincing?
Ben Myers said…
Thanks for the update — I was so disappointed to miss AAR! I'd love to hear a quick summary of Kevin Hector's paper.
First Theology said…
I'd second the desire to hear a summary of Hector's paper. If you get a chance I'd really appreciate it.
Anonymous said…
any chance you'd elaborate on Milbank's faux pas?
Anonymous said…
...and Hart's for that matter?
Well, I'm going to be very, very brief regarding Hector's fine paper. He argued for two theses: (1) God does not change ontologically in order to be God for us, and (2) election and triunity are both necessary to God, though in a different respects.

Kevin argued that Bruce McCormack cannot actually say the first thesis (for reasons which I will not elaborate here, but you can email me). And then he argued in the second half for two kinds of necessity. Triunity belongs to absolute or ontological necessary, whereas election (here appropriate Harry Frankfurt's philosophy) belongs to God's volitional necessity. This was the more creative and interesting part of the paper, though again, if you want more details, you'll have to ask me.

I think everyone in the room who leans McCormack's way found the paper to be highly unconvincing, but that's just my impression.
Regarding Milbank and Hart, there were several moments that were just astounding in their egotism, but the one who bore the brunt of it was Daniel McClain of The Land of Unlikeness blog. You might ask him about it.
Erin said…
Thanks for the recap. I am encouraged to hear of DeHart's warmth. I have been thinking a little about some similar (?) experiences I have had with theological attitude m'self. Should character affect the way we read an author? Back to lurking...:)